The Wrap: Wallabies humiliation needs a reaction, not overreaction

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    A season that started poorly, then turned positive mid-stream, has finished on a low for the Wallabies, humiliated by Scotland at Murrayfield by a record 53-24 scoreline.

    Coming on the back of last week’s late capitulation to England, these final 90 poor minutes fairly highlight the Wallabies’ deficiencies, but it would be an overreaction to define their season entirely by this finish and to lose faith in all that is Australian rugby as a result.

    For a start, Scotland is no longer emerging as a top-flight team – they have arrived. Despite losing their talisman Stuart Hogg before the match, they were composed in the way they saw off Australia’s early pressure, before visibly growing in self-belief, through a vastly superior maul and willing ball movement.

    Typically, Scotland out-enthuse sides but suffer in skill execution. Not any longer! Coach Gregor Townsend is building nicely on Vern Cotter’s foundations; he has a canny leader in John Barclay and is developing impressive squad depth and strength in key positions – playmaker Finn Russell an obvious example.

    Given that Scotland’s approach was no surprise, it was puzzling to see the Wallabies concede the initiative. An opposition that thrives on the energy garnered from increasing confidence levels needs to be taken on and stifled at the breakdown, not allowed the free licence afforded the Scots in this match.

    But if the Wallabies’ tactical approach was questionable, it was evident that energy levels – Sean McMahon excepted – weren’t sufficient to match Scotland anyway. Too many first-up tackles were missed, and the Wallabies were vulnerable up the middle and on the edges throughout.

    Australia's Sean McMahon

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    The low point – among many – came in the 74th minute when Barclay nonchalantly strode through a three-man tackle for a try under the posts. Karmichael Hunt, Lukhan Tui and Tevita Kuridrani, all seemingly leaving it to each other, again spoke to a lack of urgency in Australia’s game.

    There has been an overreliance on a small number of players who have played long minutes this year. Will Genia, Michael Hooper and Bernard Foley stand out, with Genia spluttering on low-grade Ethanol right from the start of this match.

    While lack of player depth in their positions is not Michael Cheika’s doing, it is incumbent on him to develop players and ensure their readiness for Test rugby. In that context, the number of minutes played by Joe Powell is instructive, as is the decision not to bring an alternative flyhalf into the squad.

    At least change will be forced upon Cheika at hooker, Stephen Moore ending his career in less-than-stellar circumstances. If his final match was one to forget, nobody gets to play 129 Tests by accident, and Moore can at least reflect on his long service as Wallabies skipper, and Saudi Arabia’s most capped player, with pride.

    Sekope Kepu’s 39th-minute red card was a key moment but an easy decision for French referee Pascal Gauzere. Who knows what possessed Kepu to launch himself like that, but apologists for Cheika’s behaviour last week might care to consider how it is problematic to expect the playing squad to act with discipline if the coach holds himself to different standards.

    Despite this heavy defeat, the wheels falling off the end of the Wallabies season does not warrant overreaction. The instinct to ride every ebb and flow is understandable, but the progress of any rugby side is not linear, and in the context of Cheika’s tenure, it is a disappointment, not Armageddon.

    Fitness levels have improved, the scrum is solid and the Wallabies attack has evolved to the point where they are as potent with the ball as any side in world rugby. The emergence of Marika Koroibete, Jack Dempsey, Jordan Uelese and Isaac Rodda, among others, bodes well for next year and beyond. Skill development under the eye of Mick Byrne must be persevered with.

    Marika Koroibete Australia Rugby Union Wallabies 2017

    (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    Calls for the head of the coach conveniently ignore the absence of any viable successor – particularly given the prevailing attitude to appointing a non-Australian coach after Robbie Deans was rejected.

    Such calls also ignore the lack of currency Rugby Australia has, both in hard dollars and in the court of public opinion, to terminate the man they have invested their 2019 World Cup hopes in.

    Far better for Rugby Australia to concentrate on repairing their standing with the rugby community and extracting better performances from their four remaining Super Rugby sides. This would serve a dual purpose of validating their reduction strategy, as well as providing much-needed confidence for the players.

    The match ended on an interesting note, with Kurtley Beale sin-binned for deliberately batting the ball over the touch-in-goal-line, but referee Gauzere electing not to award a penalty try to Scotland. Not invoking the ‘invisible man’ interpretation – as Angus Gardner did against the All Blacks in Paris – was a triumph for clear thinking.

    Yes, Beale’s indiscretion demanded sanction, but it didn’t automatically mean that the Scottish player was in position to score but for the foul. That there are two contrary interpretations demands clarification from World Rugby. But if common sense is any guide, my money is on the Frenchman having it right.

    All Blacks’ fans are accustomed to their side playing for long periods without the ball, however for most of the first half in Cardiff, it seemed as if their side was riding a death wish, repeatedly kicking the ball back to Wales and inviting them to try out their new ball in hand game.

    This was no better illustrated by Aaron Smith’s strange decision, with only seconds remaining in the first half, to field a kick-off and kick to a line-out only 20 metres upfield.

    The right defensive play was to take a couple of phases, exhaust time and then kick the ball out. The attacking play was to run at back at a potentially unwary defensive, thinking about half-time. Smith’s option was neither, just more ‘rope-a-dope’, which Wales, to their credit, clinically took advantage of.

    The commonly held logic is that the All Blacks are going through a necessary regeneration and rebuilding phase, but with Beauden Barrett again declining to impose himself on the game from flyhalf, there is a feeling that some of their stutters are due as much to questionable decision-making as they are to inexperienced personnel.

    Scott Jordie Beauden Barrett New Zealand Rugby Union All Blacks 2017

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    Perhaps the All Blacks felt Wales wouldn’t hurt them with the ball, or would cough up counter-attacking opportunities. But another consequence of electing to play without the ball was to negate one of their own strengths – taking Liam Squire’s running game out of commission.

    In the end, the All Blacks found enough possession for their talented runners to make a difference. Reiko Ioane – as he has been all year – was sheer quality, his final try telegraphed for all to see a mile off, but impossible to stop regardless.

    His selection as man-of-the-match was understandable, but my vote would have rewarded the superhuman effort of Sam Cane, who was a tackling machine in the face of the continued Welsh onslaught.

    The All Blacks finish the year in a satisfactory position, with pundits everywhere pointing to a narrowing of the gap to the chasers, but the win/loss ledger still overwhelmingly in their favour.

    For a nation with such high expectations, the drawn Lions series still feels like a loss, and there was a game dropped to the Wallabies too. But, with world-class strength like Brodie Retallick, Joe Moody and Ben Smith due to return refreshed, and young stars like Ioane and Asafo Aumua emerging, it will be a surprise if Steve Hansen has trouble sleeping over summer.

    Wales too will take heart from the match, not yet totally convincing as a running side, but pleasingly well along the transition path.

    One thing is for certain. Despite Italy’s stubborn refusal to advance their game, and France’s confounding form, all of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have good reason to feel that they are in the ascendency.

    Owen Farrell England Rugby Union Test 2016

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    Four into one doesn’t go however, and the upcoming Six Nations tournament promises to be one of the best in memory.

    This is true not only in terms of competitiveness, but also in playing style. If that battle has been won by the southern hemisphere, with the influence of New Zealand and Australian coaches to the fore, and Johan Ackermann now stoking up Gloucester, one of the reasons the gap between the north and south has closed is because most sides now closely resemble each other in their approach to the game.

    Let us not also downplay the role of the refereeing fraternity in promoting an open, ‘ball in play’ style of rugby – this weekend, for example, both Gauzere and Wayne Barnes preferring to keep their distance and let the players get on with things.

    With the World Cup – for better or worse – now dominating the rugby landscape, 2018 shapes as a fascinating year for all of the leading nations. Losses will be fobbed off as ‘rebuilding’ and wins taken as reinforcement that things are on track for Japan the following year.

    With the gap between the top nations so thin, a combination of wins and losses is almost inevitable. Now, more than ever, this is a time for cool, wise heads, Australia included.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (332)

    • November 27th 2017 @ 6:57am
      Viking said | November 27th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      Thanks for an insightful article as always Geoff.

      What grates from this fan’s perspective is not the loss to Scotland, who are a good uptrending team, but the manner of the loss. A record worst-ever capitulation to a northern hemisphere side.

      So how should the Wallabies react and not overreact to the result? How about installing a selection panel where Cheika voice is not the only one in the room? No backup to Genia given game time, no backup flyhalf on tour, the sentimental (and arrogant) selection of Stephen Moore to start ahead of TPN, the persistence with non-performing favourites, etc. It just feels like a different viewpoint at the selection table and elsewhere would do the team and Cheika some good instead of just “yes men” agreeing with everything…

      • Columnist

        November 27th 2017 @ 7:25am
        Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        Hi Viking

        Hard to argue with that. Other than his behaviour issues, most reasonable criticism of Cheika tends to focus on selection rather than pure coaching matters.

        It’s his neck that’s on the line so there should be no problem with him having responsibility for selection, but at the same time, it does seem that he would benefit from some more sound counsel, and an alternative voice.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 27th 2017 @ 8:02am
          Oscar Redding said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          Hey Geoff, just a small point but this is where/why I disagree with ‘lack of depth’ not being Cheika’s doing. I like Cheika as the coach and what he brings to the Wallabies but I think his blind loyalty to a select bunch of players has seen other players like White, Toomua, Mogg, Gill, Fardy, etc all walk away because knew they weren’t wanted.

          • Columnist

            November 27th 2017 @ 8:15am
            Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

            Hi Oscar,

            Do we really know that all those players went overseas because of Cheika? I’d be very surprised if that was the case and there wasn’t a whole heap of different reasons across all those players, and others.

            My comment is targeted more towards development pathways, talent identification and coaching. To their credit Rugby AU have made some progress on this with the appointment of Rod Kafer but of course this is a fundamental problem that will take a deal of time to repair.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 9:08am
              Boomeranga said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

              Toomua said he was unable to refuse the money he was offered.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 9:08am
              Bakkies said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

              There have been rumours that Fardy had a falling out with Cheika

              • November 27th 2017 @ 10:04am
                Rugby Tragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                I’m not sure that Quade Cooper and Cheika are best buddies either…

              • November 27th 2017 @ 10:23am
                Boomeranga said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

                Not just an Australian problem, but it frustrates me that dropping or not selecting a player comes with the risk they will go overseas. It means a coach has to decide early on who are his guys and die by those selections. Compare that with, say, Eddie who has been able to promote and drop players to send messages or just give the next guy a try. How handy would Jones, Pyle, Fardy and Gill been this tour?

              • November 27th 2017 @ 12:20pm
                R2D2 said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

                Wouldn’t surprise me, Fardy seems the type not to take to much rubbish from anyone, such a shame for Oz rugby .

              • November 27th 2017 @ 12:35pm
                soapit said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                pure speculation but i do think there are some players who would feel they havent been given an even fair shot at gaining a place and that would lead to more heading os rather than staying to fight it out.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm
                Cuw said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                its silly to bring Eddie Jones into this argument.

                the money in question in England cannot be compared with that in auzzy.

                for eg. it was widely reported that England players will get GBP 22k while Samoans will get GBP 675 as match fees for the last test.

                a few players have still opted to play abroad like Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon to name 2.

                even SAM UNDERHILL was bought from ospreys , so that he is qualified to play for England.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 5:09pm
                Boomeranga said | November 27th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

                I like White, Archy, but I’m just not in to re-writing history. He was hammered on these boards because he kicked to much and was seen to be too Jake White and not enough the Australian Way. He also played well at times for Australia and not so well other times as young players seem to do. He fits my point though. He wasn’t assured of a place so he left (or maybe Jake White offered him heaps of cash and it had nothing to do with selection for the Wallabies).

                CUW – I wasn’t raising an argument, just expressing a frustration. Try climbing down from your pulpit sometimes. Its nice down here.

              • November 28th 2017 @ 2:01am
                Frank said | November 28th 2017 @ 2:01am | ! Report

                So did Gill

            • November 27th 2017 @ 10:44am
              Archy said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

              Is it a coincidence that none of those players were Waratahs?

              NIc White was dropped after kicking a long range penalty and scoring an individual try to beat the All Blacks. He must have been gutted to be dropped for Phipps.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 11:30am
                Boomeranga said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                He was also a player who routinely received heavy criticism on this forum whenever he did play a test.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 3:10pm
                Archy said | November 27th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

                @Boomeranga. Oh, like Phipps, Foley, Mumm, Hannigan and Robertson, you mean? Well, White and other players that Cheika has pissed off now seem to be playing very well overseas. I guess they were just not privileged to be part of the Waratahs development squad.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 3:33pm
                col in paradise said | November 27th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

                Phipps is a dud show pony….no way would should he be anywhere near the squad….

              • November 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm
                Cuw said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                Nic white is going great at Chiefs. he is a star 🙂

              • November 27th 2017 @ 5:55pm
                mz.ilikazi said | November 27th 2017 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

                Never been able to understand why White was not taken to RWC last time…..cost us dearly, IMO.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 11:53pm
                ethan said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:53pm | ! Report

                White had one, maybe two at most, good games for Australia. Often lost his cool, and while his pass was nice, delivery from the base was always way too slow. Was not sad to see him go. Just sad not to see a guy with obvious talent like Powell not get any game time, despite the continual poor performances of Phipps.

              • November 28th 2017 @ 10:14am
                Archy said | November 28th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

                All fair comment. But those players Oscar mentions (and others) are now performing very well overseas – Cheika either failed to recognise their development potential or wasn’t prepared to invest the time to coach them. On the other hand he does seem to be prepared to indulge Waratahs players who are clearly not up to test standard.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 12:59pm
              Perthstayer said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report


              The tail wind from abrasive characters is all too similar. Some steadfast devotees but outweighed by collateral damage. Exceptions do prove a rule but too few to justify the behaviour.

              The scales are falling too far on the wrong side. Just two words now in Google bring up damning headlines. Cheika cheat.

              Australia is gambling further damage to its international off field reputation by retaining such a narrow minded policy on coach selection. This is a high risk strategy.

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 1:29pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                No argument from me mate on that count. A crash and burn style of approach is almost always destined to end in tears somewhere along the line.

                Interestingly, the same fears/criticisms are ascribed to Eddie Jones. The difference however is that Jones is able to maintain a much steadier public face.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 4:19pm
                Crash Ball2 said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

                And a 90%+ win rate.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 11:56pm
                ethan said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:56pm | ! Report

                Jones has clearly learnt a lot from past mistakes. So far, Cheika has proven unable to do this.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 2:31pm
              jim boyce said | November 27th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

              Geoff – I would check on the Kafer appointment and the team that are supposed to be assisting him. From what I hear not much is happening . Reminds me of Turnbull and some of his announcements eg Innovation, Jobs and Growth , the increase in the GST at this time last year. All sizzle and no steak..

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 3:02pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

                Cheers Jim. I hope that’s not the case.

            • Roar Rookie

              November 27th 2017 @ 6:40pm
              Oscar Redding said | November 27th 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

              Hey Geoff, no doubt they all will have differing reasons and I doubt any of them would have had just one, in life we are generally adding up any number of scenarios but to me there is also no doubt that a lot of very good players on the rise have suffered at the hands of Cheika ‘s loyalty. Now good for him it’s a noble trait but he should really just be loyal to the strongest possible team not just individuals he feels indebted to.

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 7:51pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

                Cheers Oscar, I understand your point.
                But don’t forget too that these guys are also getting a lot of $ waved in their faces.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 3:31pm
            col in paradise said | November 27th 2017 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

            What doe he bring ??? Chieka ????…..yes we need a reaction alright – a new coach – these lame excuses for the coach and this team for the past 12-18 months is riduclous..a little blip with the WC and a long overdue Bledisloe cup win when they didn’t care? apart from that its a rabble of a team..still cannot work out what exactly is their tactic in a game…….He has brought nothing – of wait – he has bought a culture that gives away truckloads of penalties..have handling problems…cannot work defensively for longer than 20 minutes a half..and pop gun kickers…he can go and take all that with him…also Phipps and Foley….

        • November 27th 2017 @ 10:10am
          Toanuiunoo said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          The common criticisms are his selections with his constant perseverance with some players who continually underperform or his willingness to only give others a brief window to shine. There is no consistency or rhyme or reason to some other that to prove a point about who is in charge. You could look to higginbothams or Cooper non selections . Timani with limited game time, vs someone such as hannigan being offer as many tests as he has.
          Any criticisms of depth must be partially attributed to the coach and RA in any event.
          Additionally, he tactics can be seen as questionable with often no discernible plan B. It’s one thing to trust your systems but when it isn’t Taylored to your oppositions strength and weaknesses but just how you want to play it can be ineffective. This was where Link was good with the Reds but I believe that work was also largely done by an assistant who I cannot recall.

          • Roar Guru

            November 27th 2017 @ 2:27pm
            jeznez said | November 27th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

            Fowler was the assistant.

            Agree with your comments – although in Higginbotham’s case he had a season ending injury, communication from RA needs to be better in these cases.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 3:36pm
            col in paradise said | November 27th 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

            Okay what is one of these Cheika “systems” ???.,….outline it to me..and give a example of when it actually occurred….

        • November 27th 2017 @ 10:44am
          Worlds Biggest said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          G’Day Geoff, but is Cheika’s neck on the line ? Given the complete lack of leadership from RA, where is the accountability ?? Pulver is on his way out and Cheika’s old Randwick mate Kearns is set to take over. I agree with others on here, it’s not the loss to a good Scottish team that is the issue, it’s the galling manner of the loss. I’m not sure there is going to be a reaction to this appalling loss. Cheika is an Island to himself surrounded by lap dog yes men both in his coaching team and the Administration.

          Also think Kepu is getting off very lightly in these threads. One of the dumbest actions I have seen for a long time and cost his team big time.

          • Columnist

            November 27th 2017 @ 11:00am
            Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            Hi WB

            No I don’t think his job is at risk at all.

            As you rightly point out, Rugby AU leadership is in a state of transition and is currently dealing with other demanding matters.

            They don’t have the money to pay contracts out early.

            While this result – and Cheika’s 50% record over the last two seasons – is below par, given the other factors above, it’s not so abjectly deficient as to demand his replacement.

            There is no readily identifiable alternative.

            That Cheika has not been called to account for his behaviour by Rugby AU (at least not in public) suggests that there is no appetite above him for a move against him.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 11:25am
              JP said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

              Chekko is fine at beating or just beating ( Italy at home) tier 2 teams, but he cannot beat tier 1 teams often enough, if at all- That is very troubling.

              Yeah he beat the AB`S at Suncorp in October but in a dead rubber ( Lost the Bledisloe) and he got whooped in the 2015 RWC final.I fear we are becoming a tier 2 team under Chuckles Chekko.

              7 wins out of 14 tests this year is tragic.Chekko needs to sack himself, as the ARU board wont.

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 12:15pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                Hi JP,

                Understand why you’re troubled. But with an eye to the Socceroos, and Ange Postecoglou walking away from the World Cup after successfully qualifying, I don’t expect we’ll be seeing anything of the sort from Cheika.

                Totally different personality, a man very determined to finish off the job he was given.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 1:23pm
              Kane said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

              The last two years have yielded a 44.8% win rate.

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 1:33pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                Depends how you account for the draws Kane. But 45/50/55 percent, that’s all in the same ballpark and isn’t really the main issue is it?

              • November 27th 2017 @ 4:41pm
                Cuw said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

                @ Geoff Parkess

                yeah these stats are not the issue. it is how yu play and how you lose.

                last week for eg. some of the guys lacked urgency – then everyone tried to lynch the ref.

                this week again most guys lacked urgency but there was noone to lynch.

                it is a concern if the guys on the park dont give 110%.

                then it is not about skills or talent or money.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 5:23pm
                Kane said | November 27th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                True, but a draw isn’t a win so I don’t think you can count it towards the win rate.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 9:33pm
              Fin said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

              Hi Geoff,
              Cheika is pretty good at communication. He’s made it very clear that he has exposed 27 new players to test rugby over the last 18 months, and that kind of change is expected to bring about some inconsistent on field performances. I suspect that he has made that pretty clear to his bosses at Rugby Australia as well.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 11:59pm
            ethan said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:59pm | ! Report

            I’ll defend Kepu. He’s been very good for us all year, so has earnt the right to make a mistake. A costly mistake, yes – players should not never put themselves in a position to receive red, but you might say Kepu has earnt the right to get off lightly. Cheika not so much, due to some consistent and predictable failings.

      • November 28th 2017 @ 8:21pm
        Noodles said | November 28th 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

        I really don’t see the coaching issue. Seems to me the execution is the variable. Simply because when the team is firing and fit they deliver terrific attack and defence.
        I expect 2018 to be consolidation and not more building. Consistency is what we want.

    • November 27th 2017 @ 6:58am
      Bluesfan said | November 27th 2017 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      Big question is have the Wallabies gone forward in 2017 and I think the evidence is that they have not.

      Further to lose to a good Scottish team is not a disgrace however to lose a player to a Red Card and then watch them fall apart and to finally lose by 29 points speaks a lot about Team Spirit.

      Whereas when the AB’s lose SBW vs. Lions earlier in their game but somehow only lost the lead in the last 5 minutes of that game vs. what the Wallabies put out on Saturday, really puts into perspective how the Wallaby team is developing.

      Losing McMahon next year is massive and they way that the game has developed it will be very interesting to see how Pocock plays next year – one noticeable thing is that over the ball players are not as dominant as they were, so the Wallaby loose forward mix will be interesting to see.

      Finally next year the Wallabies kick off with 3 games vs Ireland – they will be great games but 2018 has the potential to become another banana skin year circa 2016 English Series, with the Wallabies starting off on the backfoot prior to the RC, if they don’t get their game right.

      • Columnist

        November 27th 2017 @ 8:20am
        Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Hi BF

        No question, the Ireland series looms as huge. Australia will have the advantage on the ‘end of season tiredness’ front, so there’ll be no excuses on that score.

        And even though there is not a direct link, the prevailing mood will be set by what happens in Super Rugby. Will it be more doom and gloom or perhaps increasing confidence off the back of improved performances by the reduced number of franchises.

        • November 27th 2017 @ 10:01am
          Toanuiunoo said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          Hi Geoff,
          Whilst Ireland will be at the end of their season there has been a worrying trend of the wallabies being underdone for the June series for a number of years despite the amount of time they may have together prior to the series starting.
          The end of season advantage may be cancelled out by inadequate preparation once again

          • Columnist

            November 27th 2017 @ 10:16am
            Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

            That’s true Toanuiunoo that the international calendar is now so choked up with rugby – in both hemispheres – that all competitions, nations and clubs are compromised.

            Sorry for the shameless plug, but this theme is explored in detail in my book. Release date is edging closer…

            • November 27th 2017 @ 11:14am
              Canetragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              Just in time for Christmas:)

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 12:17pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

                Don’t be so cynical Canetragic.

                It’s actually a few weeks behind schedule. I would have preferred that people didn’t have to rush their Xmas shopping…

              • November 27th 2017 @ 1:15pm
                Canetragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

                I’ll be queuing up. Perfect pressie for my Dad. Doing any signing gigs in Adelaide? 🙂

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 1:37pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

                This may surprise you (or may not) but I hadn’t really singled out Adelaide as a likely hot market for the book!

                Couldn’t imagine anything could be more fun that spending half a day in an Adelaide bookstore explaining to folks the difference between rugby and rugby league…

              • November 27th 2017 @ 1:41pm
                Canetragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

                I think your marketing strategy is spot on. It is sadly an AFL town

            • November 27th 2017 @ 2:43pm
              Drongo said | November 27th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

              Thanks for letting us know about the book Geoff. Any chance of an inspection copy for your biggest fan? After all, I will be camping over Christmas and will need something to start the ??.
              Quite enjoyed your article today, by the way, always worth a read.

              • Columnist

                November 27th 2017 @ 3:09pm
                Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

                Cheers Drongo, it would be a boring old world if we all agreed on everything all the time. But it’s also nice to find common ground every now and then.

                The book takes a global view of where rugby sits right now and is heading. If there’s any NZ subtext in there it’s only because they’ve been the on-field benchmark for a while. There’s also plenty of Australian focus as well.

                Sorry you’re not on the free list but if you want to pay $30 for a fire-starter be my guest!

                (Bet you read it first though…)

              • November 27th 2017 @ 4:55pm
                Drongo said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

                You are right, I probably will actually shell out for it and even read it. I am sure it will be well written. Best wishes for a great Christmas.

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 5:03pm
                Machooka said | November 27th 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                Awww shucks… I love youse guys 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 7:26pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

                Indeed Chooks. That was one the best moments ever at the Roar.

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 10:39pm
                Harry Jones said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

                It was like Reagan and Gorbachev

              • Roar Guru

                November 28th 2017 @ 1:11pm
                jeznez said | November 28th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

                Nice one lads.

          • Roar Guru

            November 27th 2017 @ 10:21am
            Hoy said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            I think it might have twigged this year that they need an actual warm up game, rather than three weeks of unopposed rubbish. We will see next year I guess…

            • November 27th 2017 @ 12:35pm
              Bakkies said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

              The loss against Scotland and taking till the last ten minutes to get on top of the Italians is not enough

            • November 27th 2017 @ 1:38pm
              Ed said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              Cheika will have less than a week with the full squad before the first test against Ireland. The Reds play the Tahs on June 2, the Brums play the Moondogs the next day and our first test is on 9th June.

              The final match an Irish provincial side could play in the current season is the Pro14 final on May 26. So the Irish team, with travel to Oz, could have more time to prepare than we will.

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm
                Hoy said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

                Great planning. Well done Aus rugby. Once again, giving our team every chance possible to succeed.

                I was actually thinking about the RC… We had three or four weeks of nothing this year, where we really could have capitalised and had a hit out before hand, but instead, we chose to play NZ cold, and once again, were completely blitzed by them.

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 1:48pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

                Great spotting about that Irish will have more time to prepare.
                If Ireland gets lucky and can avoid injuries to key players, they will start the series as favorites.

      • November 27th 2017 @ 9:10am
        Crash Ball2 said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        McMahon has been the form backrower of the season and punched well above his weight in a position not natural to him. And that’s quite poignant given one of his key considerations in switching to Japan has been to maintain his battered body for as long as professionally possible.

        What’s also instructive is that he has zero ambivalence about his preferred rugby jersey: “I’d love to really keep focusing on and working on my over the ball skills, so I can get a bit more specific to that No.7 role. I need to do a lot more. I want to really start to focus on my link game.”

      • November 27th 2017 @ 9:14am
        Bakkies said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Fetchers are still effective that’s what Ireland used to kill off the Boks’ threats. The European teams are getting results due to their work at the breakdown. The Wallabies couldn’t slow the Scots down

        • November 27th 2017 @ 1:43pm
          sheek said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

          BTW Bakkies,

          Thanks for the link on the other site to comments made by Pulver in relation to Rebels.

          I just haven’t been able to summon a worthy response that can be read in public!

          • November 28th 2017 @ 11:50am
            Bakkies said | November 28th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

            No worries Sheek. Nothing surprises me about this pack of parasites anymore.

      • Roar Guru

        November 27th 2017 @ 10:14am
        Hoy said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Over ball players are not as dominant as they once were, because they aren’t as good at it as they once were… name someone remotely close to as good as Pocock over the ball? Who is the worlds best international openside flanker this year do you think?

        • November 27th 2017 @ 11:17am
          Canetragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Sam Cane

          • November 27th 2017 @ 11:29am
            Crash Ball2 said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            It’s hard not to like Sam Cane (even from this side of the ditch). He’s the uncomplicated Rock positioned at the pointy end of the forward battle, always. Hard shouldered, hard working, unafraid to do the unsexy stuff and and unbothered by constantly escaping the post-match highlight reel. Just executes his core tasks – superbly – and makes those around him look better. Great player.

            • November 27th 2017 @ 12:38pm
              Rugby Tragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

              Hi praise but very hard to disagree with you. Served a long apprenticeship now it is his moment in the sun. Cannot recall when he was outplayed in a test since 2015 .. can someone refreshen my memory?

              • November 27th 2017 @ 4:51pm
                Cuw said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                think he was out numbered and outplayed in the 2nd lions test.

                in fact many writers thought Hansen got it wrong by taking Kaino off – giving a free license to SW and SOB to flop all over the ball.

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 10:41pm
                Harry Jones said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

                Hard to think of an example…

        • Roar Guru

          November 27th 2017 @ 11:21am
          pformagg said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          Exactly, People have short memories of what Pocock brings to the table when he plays at 7.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 12:05pm
            Bluesfan said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            Well we know what he brings – but is it enough?

            He is fantastic over the ball, defensively good – but in the wide channels?

            If you could merge Hooper and Pocock into one player – best in the world. However by playing Pocock and Hooper together – what happens to the line out and who exactly in the forward pack is going to get you over the all important gainline?

            • Roar Guru

              November 27th 2017 @ 1:51pm
              Hoy said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              To counter this… I ask you how we are going focussing on the wide channels at the moment? Pretty ordinary.

              The big thing really isn’t to play them both together, but to drop Hooper for Pocock, and play Hooper in the last 20/30. Will never happen, but that is what should happen.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 3:45pm
                col in paradise said | November 27th 2017 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

                agree..Hooper to the bench….bring him on for the last 20 when his speed gets an advantage with tiring forwards..before that let the real forwards do the work….!!!

            • November 27th 2017 @ 2:00pm
              Crash Ball2 said | November 27th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

              As an openside flanker, Pocock might reasonably be asked to link to the wider channels, but – much like Sam Cane, Sean O’Brien, Hamish Watson et al – is unlikely to outflank any wingers with dazzling feet or slight of hand. He is however, fantastic in the tight channels, an almost unfailing tackler, secures an offensive ruck with low-centered surety, hounds a defensive ruck without need for description, lends great technique/weight/strength to set piece and maul, is a very good cover defender and wins his collisions. Yep, for me, that’s enough.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 5:01pm
                Bluesfan said | November 27th 2017 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

                Understand what you are saying – but take someone like Sam Cane – defensively he is outstanding but you will see him connecting to his outside backs, which I don’t think Pocock offers.

                I see Pocock as being a purely defensive player who offers little or nothing on attack. As an AB Fan I’m happy that McMahon is departing the scene and relaxed at Pocock returning – as I think the AB know how to counter his strengths (which are outstanding) and play to his weaknesses.

              • November 28th 2017 @ 8:25am
                Crash Ball2 said | November 28th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

                Too many think of sweeping backline plays and fancy feet in the tramlines as the sole measure of attack. Whereas, the vast majority of “attack” begins at the breakdown. Securing offensive rucks and ensuring quick ball has been one of the biggest areas of weakness for the Wallabies and continues to be so. Whilst McMahon and Hooper look great with space in the three quarter channel and room to burn, too often the play is stifled before it begins because hard on-balling or ruck contesting opposition win the ground battle – as Scotland just did with their excellent, workmanlike rather than flashy backrow. David Pocock is one of the best ball securers in Australia (probably second only to George Smith who is still the master), he cleans out under the shoulders, with low centre of gravity and his vast strength in contact means he will not be moved. Most importantly, he follows the ball and attends numerous offensive rucks. In this way, I suggest that DP is not only offers a lot in attack, he is in fact, one of Australia’s most important attackers. He won’t feature much on Fox Sports highlight reels or popular stats sheets, but Pocock is an each way player with a phenomenal workate and as importantly, great impact.

            • Roar Rookie

              November 27th 2017 @ 4:47pm
              Don said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

              There was a guy who we had running around in Super Rugby for a while who made a decent fist of playing the hybrid Pocock / Hooper role and was probably a better defender than both- Liam Gill.

              Just had to make sure he didn’t get too confident and pretend he was a fly half.

              Although we have great depth at 7, I would have loved to see Gill up against Pocock, Hooper etc again. When he left for France he was playing better than both.

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 10:42pm
                Harry Jones said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

                Gill is playing very very well at Lyon; a big reason they rocketed up to the top ranks of the league.

        • Roar Guru

          November 27th 2017 @ 12:24pm
          Diggercane said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          Malcolm Marx is just as good over the ball in my opinion.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 12:30pm
            Fionn said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            Diggercane, I don’t think he is just yet.

            That said, Marx looks to me like he may very well become the most complete and possibly best tight 5 forward of the professional era. If he is well coached then, who knows, perhaps he may become the best forward of the professional era?

            If there was any player in the world I could make a Wallaby it would probably be him.

            • Roar Guru

              November 27th 2017 @ 12:38pm
              Diggercane said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

              No question Fionn, he certainly can be.

        • November 27th 2017 @ 4:53pm
          Cuw said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report


          Pablo Matera

          Sam Cane , Matt Todd

          Sean O’brian

          Sam Underhill

        • November 27th 2017 @ 6:01pm
          double agent said | November 27th 2017 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

          Matt Todd. Best pilferer in NZ.

      • November 27th 2017 @ 11:29am
        JP said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report


        Hopefully Cheika is sacked before then mate,then we might stand a chance of not getting beaten 3-0 by a ruthless well coached, well drilled Ireland with an adaptable game plan for all conditions and player weaknesess.

      • November 27th 2017 @ 1:02pm
        Gepetto said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        The team that that faced the ABs in the World Cup Final was made up of overworked and injured players and they were beaten soundly. The Coach should have shared the workload around the squad in the lead-up games. Playing together has not helped cohesion. Alan Jones’ Barbarians seemed a more cohesive unit after a week together. Rip the bandaid off … Cheika does not deserve a second chance. When the Reds top the Australian Conference this Super season Thorne can take over.

        • November 27th 2017 @ 1:27pm
          Kane said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

          Hang fire there. I hope Thorne goes well just as much as the next guy but how about we let him develop as a coach first.

          One season as a NRC coach and one as a Super coach isn’t a lot of experience to be chucked into test footy.

          If he harbours international honours then maybe after the 19 RWC he could take on an assistant role and then full time at 2024?

    • November 27th 2017 @ 7:03am
      Cynical Play said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:03am | ! Report

      I don’t think the RC form was an anomaly. But it just goes to show how hard these European tours can be at the end of a long season.
      The WB RC team was building and getting good performances culminating in that excellent Bled 3. Then we lost Folau, Tui, Dempsey, and others which, in my view, cruelled the team (thanks Baa Baa game). Going to Europe with a changed backline and numerous top pick forwards unavailable, couple with poor selections of Moore, Phipps, etc and the dropping form of Beale, Hodge, who both had pretty forgettable tours, on the end of a very long season (SR pre-season from February). with the injury to Coleman, Genia exhausted, goes some way to explaining why the back half of the tour was so disappointing.As soon as Folau pulled out, Cheika must have been wondering, as it forced a quantum change to the attacking structure which had taken so long to come good. But to lose a couple of 1st pick forwards just before the tour, after the camps, was telling. For all the criticisms of Cheika, just remember he has rebuilt this team twice (Eddie Jones words). Once to make the RWC final. And recently from the ARU led chaos, to have the team matching it with the world No 1.

      All credit to Scotland though. On that performance, at that stadium, on that night, in that mood, who knows wether even the ABs would have got over them.

      • Columnist

        November 27th 2017 @ 7:33am
        Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

        Hi CP,

        I agree, the Wallabies’ RC performances and the Brisbane win against NZ were what they were, not a mirage or anomaly.

        It’s difficult to analyse without being accused of making excuses, but it’s fair to look at a very long season, where the side has been ‘up’ for an eternity, including the extended training/fitness camp. I also warned that in the week the players should have been freshening up for this tour, the Wallabies remained in camp for the pointless Barbarians match.

        So when you get to the end of the line, against a very good side like Scotland has become, it’s not such a surprise when things go off the rails. But I agree, it doesn’t mean that everything is broken.

        • November 27th 2017 @ 7:38am
          Fionn said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

          Scotland beat us in June at the end of a long season and we looked just as much of a rabble. It’s convenient when we can use the excuse of being tired at the end of a long season. Not as convenient when we lose to the same team when they were at the end of their long season.

          We’ve been waiting 2 years for sustained improvements, Geoff, and they still haven’t come. 2016 was written off as anomaly. 2017 started in the worst fashion possible, things seemingly improved during the RC but 2017 ended as badly as it started. Arguably worse.

          At the end of the day the only tier 1 teams we’ve beaten all year are Argentina (in diabolical form), Wales (in diabolical form) and New Zealand in a dead rubber (still a great win). Brisbane papered over the cracks, but when you look at 2017 overall it has been a disaster.

          If we continue on the same path with no changes whatsoever we’ll be making the same comment and excuses at the end of 2018, and it will have been three straight years of abominable results and performances.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 7:54am
            moaman said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

            The ‘long-season’ arguement must be tempered by the fact that the majority of Australian players had a decent break at the pointy end of the Super comp….having said that…February to November is pretty rediculous.

            • Columnist

              November 27th 2017 @ 7:58am
              Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

              Except they weren’t having a break Moa, that was ‘boot-camp’ time.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 9:18am
                Bakkies said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

                The French play from August to June

              • November 27th 2017 @ 10:37am
                Rugby Tragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

                yes but look where that’s got them … a draw with Japan ..

              • November 27th 2017 @ 11:16am
                moaman said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                I was hoping my “arguement’ was French which would have been a remarkable segue to Bakkies’ comment….alas it was merely an unfortunate typo.

                Boot Camp would have been at least a mental break Geoff!

              • November 27th 2017 @ 12:36pm
                soapit said | November 27th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                perhaps they were having too much of a break in the season proper then

          • Columnist

            November 27th 2017 @ 7:58am
            Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

            That’s the other side of it Fionn and it’s not an unreasonable position.

            But then the question becomes… what are the viable alternative paths? And who is the person to turn things around? If indeed it is possible for a coach to do this on his own?

            • November 27th 2017 @ 8:14am
              Fionn said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

              I think we have to acknowledge that Cheika’s record is now undeniable—he is the least successful coach in terms of winning percentage and head to head the Wallabies have had since at least Mark Ella’s time (2015 was the only year he had a positive win % against tier 1 nations). Since the start of 2016 was the firs time he had to build his own team rather than relying on the nucleus of Deans’ and Link’s, and his results have been abominable.

              It must be said that there are some mitigating factors, like the poor SR teams and the fact that the NH teams are getting stronger. That said, Scotland, England and Ireland have improved out of sight since the RWC. This is due to coaching.

              Australia, South Africa and Argentina have gone backwards rapidly. This is due to coaching also.

              There is no excuse for our lack of a sophisticated kicking game or plan B when plan A isn’t working 3.5 years into Cheika’s tenure.

              If there was the possibility of parachuting in another coach for the 2019 RWC I would say Jake White (as he has expressed a desire to coach internationally very often, and has a propensity for wriggling out of contracts) or a Kiwi. Failing that, even promoting Larkham may be a better option. Even offer Link the job again, and give him free reign to fire those players who undermined him (as another article on the site today discusses, most were senior Waratahs).

              Failing a change of coach surely Cheika must be stripped of the ability to select his team alone and at the very least be put on a panel of three selectors. It won’t be enough to fix the problems in strategy, tactics and attitude, but at least it should remove the worst of the passengers from the team.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 11:35am
                JP said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                Perfectly said Fionn.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 4:13pm
                Cynical Play said | November 27th 2017 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

                Cheika has 55% win stats.
                What were Links? 50%
                What was Deans WB win stats? 58%

                so…. is it the cattle? Sure, looks like it.

                Eddie thinks the cattle make the coach. Said so today

                But dont let that stop your fun.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 6:56pm
                Crash Ball2 said | November 27th 2017 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

                Yep, Eddie Jones has never foxed anyone. Took a ragtag team of journeymen, misfiring and under the kosh from a abysmal 2015 RWC and turned largely the same group (particularly initially) into a 22 from 23 win record. What Eddie Jones says and what Eddie Jones does aren’t necessarily aligned. Great example though: same players. New coach / approach / strategy. Stunningly different, near perfect results. But don’t let that stop your fun.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 8:12pm
                Worlds Biggest said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

                Cheika is a good fixer and has a good track record of turning around underperforming teams into Champions – Leinster & Waratahs. His first full season with Wallabies was very good so he also turned that shipwreck around after Link debacle. However since then it has been pedestrian overall, the England series knocked the stuffing out of Cheika and I’m not sure he has fully bounced back. I’m not convinced much is going to change, more of the same inconsistency. The fact is the RA can’t afford a payout so Cheika will be the man moving forward.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 9:31pm
                Machiavelli said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

                Jake White will kill the Wallabies just like he did the Brumbies. Larkham has only just got his attacking mojo back. The Brumbies scaled no great heights with and since without White. His approach in retrospect smacked of expediency given his hunger for a national role. IMHO the key to the White world Cup victory was the right cattle and Eddie Jones input.

                The grass it seems is always greener for disenchanted fans with little appreciation shown for the true nature of the task confronting the national coach given the parlous state of Rugby within Australia.

                Burdening the national setup with miraculous powers is grossly unfair and dare I say it ignorance. Its time for fans to dig in and do the hard work just like the players and the coaching staff have to.

                From where we have come – at the end of Super R – I’d say this season has been a success. Not perfect by a long shot but better than expected. I have no doubt next year will be better still but unfortunately it will never be enough for some fans who exhibit the same disease symptoms possessed by our hallowed rugby administrators.

              • November 28th 2017 @ 8:32am
                Crash Ball2 said | November 28th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

                We have vastly different definitions of success sir. One person’s “time to dig in” is another’s “cut our losses”. And Jake White isn’t he only viable successor on the planet.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 8:32am
            taylorman said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            That’s a good point about the relative Scottish sides but the 14 down for the last half of the season is relevant here I believe but mainly its that Oz are struggling to put players in roles that they can deliver on and there’s a large amount of some carrying others.

            Then apply that weakness through to the bench, who don’t provide the impact they need to and extend that to a dozen matches then you have a team that is doing it really hard to compete.

            This is first and foremost a skill issue, the rest comes with it, the frustration etc.

      • November 27th 2017 @ 8:13am
        bluffboy said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        CP, good on you mate for sticking up for your team, it has been tough times for you guys and for me as long as Cheika is coach, there are still tough times ahead. More Wallaby fan need that attitude (or just fans in general)
        For me rugby has been and always will be a game of mental toughness over everything. Yes, a long season, but a long season for all the SH teams. Its also a long for the NH teams that come for our international preseason games.
        In my view the Wallabies are mentally weak and think that is mainly due to the leadership and mentoring that exists within. As a supporter of the AB’s we hope Cheika remains your coach and selector beyond the next World Cup.
        It is plain to see from the rugby circle that I belong to and believe me it a truly international affair, that there is the talent here in Australia to be developed. The main problem is coaches and coaching. I’m sure that most people that have been involved in sporting clubs would all agree on, is that culture is the hardest thing to change and implement. That is where the Wallabies are failing. All the smoke and mirrors fade to reveal results. As people have written, the Wallabies can match it with the best, but at this level and with the NH teams closing in, its about consistency. The only thing ARU can crow about is the world rankings, but now the Nations is about to kick off that will surely change.
        Take heart, I certainly would like to be in your shoes, but there is depth, you will be back just a few bump to navigate.

      • November 27th 2017 @ 10:30am
        HarryT said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Good points CP.

        The Wallabies’ fitness in the last 20 minutes was a feature of the RC. Their composure in the close games was also impressive.

        Another notable improvement, because I hate rushing defenses, was the optional play-making at 10 and 12 that constantly bamboozled opponents defense systems. With Beale at full-back and the one dimensional Kerevi at 12, it seemed to me that the Wallabies spent too much time and energy running into brick walls, which may have explained the exhaustion in the last two games and less than stellar last 20 minutes.

        • November 27th 2017 @ 11:20am
          Cynical Play said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

          Exactly, the moment Beale went to FB, the whole structure changed.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 11:25pm
            Jp said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:25pm | ! Report

            The abs were missing all those players in Brisbane which is why the wallabies won..

        • November 27th 2017 @ 11:33am
          JP said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          You really mean, ” The one dimensional Foley at 10 “.

        • Roar Guru

          November 27th 2017 @ 11:45am
          Hoy said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          Kerevi isn’t one dimensional though… he was used one dimensionally. He is a big bloke with a lot of subtelty about how he moves… so lets give him short balls into brick walls all day… Stupid play. Just because we had two big centres, we didn’t have to use them as battering rams. We chose to do just that.

          Did you notice Beale’s rubbish play making at first receiver against Scotland? That was why he is a better 12 than 10… he is an individual… he can’t drive a team around, and neither can Foley.

          • November 27th 2017 @ 1:42pm
            sheek said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report


            good stuff!

          • November 27th 2017 @ 1:45pm
            JP said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

            Can we throw the kitchen sink at Jonathan Thurston for 2019 super season ?? I don’t care if he will be 36 at the 2019 RWC-,.He would kill it at 10 steering those talented Wallaby backs around even at 36.He also has a 85 % kicking percentage to boot.

            If an average to ok Berrick Barnes played 10 for the Wallabies, JT would do it easily-Forget the outside backs,get some NRL playmakers signed up.Even Mitchell Pearce would make Foley look even worse.If that is possible.

            NRL Shopping list.

            Cam Munster
            Michael Morgan
            Ben Hunt
            James Maloney
            Ash Taylor
            Mitchell Pearce
            Daly Cherry-Evans
            Anthony Milford
            Matt Moylan
            Darius Boyd
            Billy Slater ( could play 6

            • November 27th 2017 @ 5:03pm
              rebel said | November 27th 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

              Billy Slater could play blindside breakaway? He’s good, but not sure his shoulders would hold up.

              • November 28th 2017 @ 11:33am
                JP said | November 28th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                hehe .10

      • Roar Guru

        November 27th 2017 @ 10:44am
        Ralph said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        I tend to agree with you CP, these are the kinds of issues Hanson was beating the drum about at the start of the season and why he thought the end of year was going to be so tough.

      • November 27th 2017 @ 11:32am
        Marto said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        Dr C Play , Michael Cheikas spin doctor.

        • November 27th 2017 @ 1:04pm
          Cynical Play said | November 27th 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          Hiya Marto. How are the labotomy scars?

      • November 27th 2017 @ 11:23pm
        Jp said | November 27th 2017 @ 11:23pm | ! Report

        The abs got over them the week before Cp..

    • November 27th 2017 @ 7:32am
      Bob Wire said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      Geoff, thanks for the wrap-wise words as ever. Wouldn’t it be great if Cheika agreed to an in depth interview on which he discussed his thoughts on selection, non selection and his plans regarding depth in the squad leading up to Japan? Heaps of conjecture in these matters, but only one guy really knows what’s what.

      • Columnist

        November 27th 2017 @ 7:42am
        Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        Cheers Bob.

        One of the problems Cheika has is that via his insistence on denying the undeniable, (eg Folau didn’t pull Lleyds’ hair) and gross overreactions (eg calling last weeks’ officials cheats) he lacks both the currency and gravitas for any in-depth, honest appraisal in the manner you suggest.

        Not that I’d expect him to do it anyway. He went public with the Quigley business because he wanted to defend his players against accusations that they weren’t putting in. But I don’t think it’s in his nature to feel that he needs to defend himself, and that’s probably fair enough.

        But no question, it would be fascinating to know what is behind his thinking.

        • Roar Guru

          November 27th 2017 @ 10:47am
          Ralph said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Perhaps he is holding the juicy stuff back for his own book ..

          • November 27th 2017 @ 5:45pm
            Charlie Turner said | November 27th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

            It would be full of alternative facts.

    • Roar Guru

      November 27th 2017 @ 7:51am
      Machooka said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Morning G… well rounded Wrap of the w’end’s games that mattered. Mostly mattered. Mattered mostly to me!

      And well done for putting it out there about Scotland… geez I’ve been saying for yonks these guys are now the real deal.
      Hence, congrats to Scotland for their historical win, deserved win, smashing win… can you now win the 6N win!?!

      For mine the ‘red card’ only added to the Scottish winning margin thus making it historical, but the Scots were already finding space out wide before it. They were always gonna do a job on the Wallaby. Big jobs.
      Likewise, I thought the card was a little over the top… I’ve seen a lot worse miss sanction. But if you do the crime, you’ll do the time, and in Kepu’s case a effen lot of time. Like half the match time.

      Lastly, thanks to Squeak for your service. 129 tests ain’t no joke, so well done Saudi Arabia’s favourite son!

      • Columnist

        November 27th 2017 @ 8:28am
        Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        Hey Chook, yes I reckon the jocks have plenty of support in this part of the world and a 6N win would go down well. But it’s going to need a heck of an effort over what will be an incredibly intensive few weeks.

        Can’t say I saw too many mitigating circumstances in the Kepu card. It was an easy decision and he’ll be looking at a few weeks for sure.

        • Roar Guru

          November 27th 2017 @ 8:45am
          Machooka said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          Apologies G… I forgot to thank-you for your continued support in writing-up your Wraps for this past rugby season. Especially at this part of the season, with the EOYT games, as it’s not easy getting up at ungodly hour to watch, let alone critique. Well done buddy… you’ve done so expertly!

          And don’t get me wrong about Kepu… it was deserved, it’s just that I’ve seen many as bad, some worse, that have escaped penalty. Oh to have consistency 😉

          • November 27th 2017 @ 9:03am
            Rugby Tragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

            Chook, IMO same player should have had 10 mins in the bin during the 2015 RWC final…

            • Roar Guru

              November 27th 2017 @ 9:37am
              Machooka said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

              Some old people have such long memories 🙂

              • November 27th 2017 @ 10:09am
                Rugby Tragic said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

                Some younger people are affected by alzheimer’s early than others too … or is it ‘selective memory’ …

                But you will also note … that yours truly did not ‘openly whine’ bout it either… 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                November 27th 2017 @ 10:13am
                Machooka said | November 27th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

                Yeah… ya could be right, if I could remember correctly.

                Likewise, I note… that yours truely did not ‘open wine’ 🙂

              • November 27th 2017 @ 7:15pm
                double agent said | November 27th 2017 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

                There should be an acknowledged time limit on how long someone can refer to past injustices!!!! Two years is surely stretching it.

              • November 27th 2017 @ 8:34pm
                RugbyNovice said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

                With the following exceptions which are allowed till the end of time:

                1995 world cup final NZ food poisoning

                2005 BOD spear tackle

                2007 world cup Wayne Barnes


              • Roar Guru

                November 28th 2017 @ 3:19pm
                Wal said | November 28th 2017 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

                or the Bob Deans disallowed try against Wales in 1905


      • November 28th 2017 @ 11:36am
        JP said | November 28th 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        Machooka ,Moore deserves an apology from Lebanon`s favourite son.

        • November 28th 2017 @ 10:01pm
          Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | November 28th 2017 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

          Double Agent,
          “There should be an acknowledged time limit on how long someone can refer to past injustices!!!! Two years is surely stretching it.”
          Does this mean that Sir Colin Meads, Richard Loe and Tana ‘tuddlywunks’ Umaga are off the menu?

          I will agree when the Chapell Brothers Bowling escapades are forgiven. (And I see no abatement in the flood of that memory flowing westward across the Tasman)

    • November 27th 2017 @ 8:05am
      Davo said | November 27th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      A voice of reason as always Geoff. Leaving aside specific selection and tactical issues for the moment, I think two big mistakes that should never be repeated were the farcical “Barbarians” game, and the sentimental unwillingness to drop formerly great players who overstay their abilities.

      I think we also saw the emergence of a team (Scotland) and ref (Gauzere) likely to spend a lot more time at the top. Congratulations to both.

      • Columnist

        November 27th 2017 @ 9:12am
        Geoff Parkes said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Strong observations Davo. Gauzere was very calm and clear wasn’t he?

        • Roar Guru

          November 27th 2017 @ 9:20am
          PeterK said | November 27th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          Gauzere had the best game as a ref, very consistent and accurate, best intl performance by a ref all year.

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